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A Student or a Teacher?
Hi, I’m Zahra and this is my first year teaching English at school. I’m 22 and I finished my TEFL course in May 2021, two months before graduating from university.
After getting my BA from a governmental teaching training center in Iran, I was assigned to teach in 3 different high schools in Qazvin. I started teaching in September while Covid was still around and I haven’t yet been fully vaccinated.
At first I had to teach on Shad which is an Iranian application for holding classes online. The platform is pretty much similar to WhatsApp so I had no difficulty doing my job. However, I need to mention that the internet connection is annoyingly poor and on top of that some useful apps like YouTube and many teaching websites are banned in Iran!
Unfortunately, these rigorous rules tie our hands and hold us, teachers, back from improving our professional life in Iran. Due to the same problem, students were unable to follow classes through live meetings or even video files so I had to manage teaching with offline material like voice messages and worksheets. This clearly isn’t what I expected or wanted my first year to be like.
Accordingly, when face-to-face classes started late in October, I found students confused, more than they usually are, at the beginning of this school year! They seemed to find it really hard to go back to a school routine after a year of virtual classes.
I guess we can all agree that adapting to work during a pandemic took us all some time.
I love all of my students and I try my best to provide a safe zone for them in my class.
It goes without saying that dealing with students who are only 4 years younger than me within the frame of the Islamic republic of Iran can get a little tricky sometimes but I love all of my students and I try my best to provide a safe zone for them in my class.
School staff and parents are very polite and helpful. It is funny, though, how they fail to recognize me all the time. I have what they call a baby face and we have to wear masks all the time so they think that I’m one of the students and treat me like them until I introduce myself. This can get very awkward sometimes. Recently the dean shouted at me for standing during the exam and asked me to sit down and take my test while I was actually supervising the process!
About the level of education and general knowledge, students surprise me every day as they know very little about the real world outside their country. In Iran, even senior year students are unable to have a simple conversation in English yet they are friendly and grateful which prevents me from getting any kind of workplace anxiety.
In the evenings I give private sessions or I teach in English institutes. However I’m happy for now. I would love to try other countries for next year and I hope for more challenging teaching opportunities.
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